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Mark / Senior Project Leader

Our amazing staff are more comfortable getting excited by new design challenges, than beating their own drum. So in this series, we turn the spotlight on our team to give you an insight how they each tick.

Our very first spotlight is on Mark Matthews-Frederick, one of our Senior Project Leaders in the Design Team. Since 2015, Mark has progressed his career at Cobalt from Industrial Designer to Senior Project Leader, acting also as the Design Team Resource Manager.

During his time at Cobalt Mark has lead, project managed and designed for some of our largest automotive projects to date, including the third generation Victoria Police ADT “Booze Bus”, BIS Industries Mining dump truck and Mobile Info Hub Van for the West Gate Tunnel Project. Mark has also been a contributing designer for multiple other projects across medical devices, consumer and sustainability products. But what else is there to Mark?

What was your experience before Cobalt?

I started out designing trains and trams for Bombardier Transportation (which was great experience) before going to Germany and working in the automotive industry for a couple of years. The highlight was being part of the interior design team for Bugatti and working on some really amazing cars. I’ve also designed a bunch of bike parts for Australian BMX companies Colony BMX and Division Brand. Cobalt has been a great next step in further developing my knowledge and design skills in a broad range of industries, user groups, materials and manufacturing techniques.

What’s the niftiest thing you’ve learnt at Cobalt recently?

I am constantly learning new tricks for Photoshop sketching/rendering from our gun designers Graeme Marshall and Andrew Fanning. Recently it has been some techniques with masks and smart objects.

Other general interests outside of work?

Bikes (all types of cycling but BMX is still my real passion); cricket and plenty of other sports; and music is an important part of my life as well (DJ-ing and production of sample-based house/disco type stuff, as well as collecting vinyl and discovering gems from all styles from the 70s and 80s).

Coolest home-brew product or project?

Nothing too original or ‘cool’ I guess, but I’ve built a few steel frame BMX bike ramps (tallest one was about 6 foot tall) that have stood the test of time pretty well. And speaking of BMX, I should also mention the many bikes; as well as acres of bike tracks and dirt jumps I have built (with only a shovel!) over the years.

So you just completed a half marathon?

My partner Megan is a good runner; she’s done a couple of half-marathons in the past and was keen for the rather tough run up kunanyi (Mt Wellington) out of Hobart. I am by no means a runner, but always up for a physical challenge so I agreed… I did survive though, and it was good fun. Megan and I ran together for the first 15km or so, but after that I couldn’t keep up with her any more – she ended up beating me by about 5 minutes by the end!

Hidden talent?

I still enjoy drawing quite a lot, but these days I don’t get the chance too often – except for when my ‘creative director’ (Megan) has an idea for her friends’/relatives’ birthday cards that she would like to see come to fruition… So I guess the hidden talent could be referred to as ‘birthday-card-art’?

What did you want to be growing up?

I always loved drawing cars, bikes, planes, etc. and I can remember when my grandfather told me about Industrial Design. I would have been 10 or 12 years old, and from then on I knew that was for me. But, when I was really young, I wanted to be a garbage man because that would mean I could get up really early and be out working in the dark – this seemed so romantic at the time…

If you had one superpower what would it be?

I know everyone says it, but being able to fly would just be so much fun!

If you could take one thing to a desert island what would it be?

My vintage pair of red Oakley Eyeshades. It’s important to protect one’s eyes when stranded on a desert island, and also important to look good while doing so.

Best piece of advice for young designers?

Keep sketching! A good product sketch can do many things – communicate form, communicate function, highlight important details or portray emotion – or all of these things, often without even needing a high degree of realism. Nothing grabs my attention more than a great sketch.

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